Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 11:28 pm | Fair 61º


Local News

Santa Maria Teen Denies Murder Charge For Allegedly Killing Newborn

A 15-year-old Santa Maria girl charged with murder for allegedly killing her newborn baby denied the charge Wednesday morning in Santa Maria Juvenile Court.

The denial of the petition —the juvenile court equivalent to a not-guilty plea — was entered by defense attorney Lea Villegas, on behalf of her minor client, who is referred to as Maribel S in court due to her age.

Villegas also told Juvenile Court Judge Arthur Garcia she plans to file a motion to suppress no later than Friday, but did not reveal Wednesday what evidence she wants excluded from consideration.

The girl, who remains in custody, was arrested by Santa Maria police in January for suspicion of killing her newborn baby and charged with murder. The girl also faces a special allegation she used a weapon during the crime.

The judge instructed Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian to file her response to the defense motion by June 9.

Attorneys will return June 16 to confirm whether they are ready to argue the suppression motion, a hearing tentatively set for June 22. 

After giving birth at home, the girl showed up Jan. 17 at Marian Regional Medical Center where officers were summoned, authorities said.

Police later found the dead baby at the girl’s residence. 

An autopsy conducted three days later determined the baby died of traumatic injuries, leading police to open a murder investigation.

A week after the autopsy, officers arrested the 15-year-old mother for alleging killing the baby.

While juvenile court has many similarities with adult court, some key differences exist including participation of a minor’s parents. 

Some terminology also is different with a first hearing akin to an arraignment for adult defendants. Wednesday's court appearance marked a continued first appearance for the case. 

Most juvenile court cases are closed, but for some cases, based on those involving more serious charges, media and other members of the public are allowed to attend hearings

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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